Friday, September 4, 2015

Banh Mi - Create a Sandwich

More than once, when my husband goes crazy for how delicious a food is, I take is as a personal challenge to try and see if I can make it.  -  I heard a quote a while back that said something like, "when did we start being convinced that we couldn't make good food ourselves"

Here's the thing, somebody made this - not a factory, not an assembly line, but I person stood in a kitchen and made this. Chef's in restaurants go on and on about how they use their family recipes and how they had parents and grandparents that never used recipes and created magic in the kitchen.

I am no where near a magician, but I can follow a recipe pretty darn good, and I am not afraid to keep trying.

This is a Banh Mi ( The pronunciation is a little bit of a squabble - I have seen it pronounced - Banh- like fawn or dawn and me ** But others say it like - bAn- like van or tan and My ** Actually both are correct since the name is an actual translation of a regional Vietnamese food. Like how we US English speakers say Hoagie, Po'Boy, or Sub .

A Banh Mi really just means a Vietnamese sandwich - they come will all different types of meat, but the bread and toppings are almost universally the same. (But the best news is that they are the easiest Part!)

You'll want to use as close to a French Baguette as you can get. We were able to find smaller ones, but you can readily find the long ones and just cut it into pieces as long as you want your sandwiches.

I used a type of pulled pork on ours - as that seems to be the most popular version.

They you top it with sliced of cold cucumber, quick pickled veggies (carrots and diakon are traditional), cilantro (essential) and pepper rings (we used jalapeno)

I cooked the pork in a slow cooker and then about an hour before we were wanting to eat, pickled the vegetables - all that was left was the assembly and the eating.

Joseph said they were pretty darn authentic and fantastic! He got a little hung up on the bread being "not exactly right" - but he is like the nuclear physicist of eating bread - so his opinions don't count of us regular 'folk.

Let's get to it already.... !!!

For pork: 
1 boneless pork loin
2 tablespoons fish sauce  (this is probably sacrilegious, but I hate fish sauce - so I used BBQ sauce)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely-minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

Put your roast in your slow cooker and then mix all your other ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour over your roast - try and cook it on low for the 8 hours, so it can be really tender.

For sandwiches:

Pickled Veggies: 
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup rice or white vinegar
3-4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt, or enough to make a moderately salty brine
1/2 lb peeled and shredded carrots
1/2 lb peeled and shredded daikon radish (traditional but really hard to find - I used broccoli slaw and thought it was Fantastic! - if you just decide to use only carrots that is just fine)

To make the pickles: mix together the hot water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir until everything dissolves and add the carrots and daikon (if using). Let stand for at least 1 hour. Drain well before using; 

8 small, crusty baguettes.

1 cucumber, halved and cut lengthwise into eighths
thinly-sliced fresh chilies, to taste
fresh cilantro sprigs

To assemble the sandwiches, spread one side of the interior with mayonnaise.

Next, nestle in a few slices of chili, one or two small pieces of meat, a cucumber wedge, a sprig or two of cilantro and a tangle of carrot-daikon pickle. 

One of the beauties of this sandwich is that each bite is different than the last.

The portion of meat is not large compared to what we are used to eating - and the pickled veggies should make up half the sandwich. 

Use more cilantro rather than less - and you can use the whole sprig, not just the leaves. 

I was VERY nervous about using the peppers, because I don't have a really high tolerance for Hot, but I decided to try it anyway so I could have an authentic experience, It was fantastic - Joseph removed the center membrane and the seeds and what was left was a very pleasant heat.